A Travellerspoint blog

July 2010

Rebuilding Wenchuan with Love

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Wenchuan before the Earthquake

Wenchuan (or Wenzhuan) is the nearest city to Yingxiu. During our project we brought rural teachers from the surrounding areas into the city for training. We had become friends with our colleagues there and they had been in Canada for upgrading their teaching skills.
When the earthquake hit, it was these people we worried most about. The city was cut off for 6 days with no water or electricity; the roads and bridges were all destroyed; there was no communication with the outside world. Our colleagues told us of their frightening experiences during this time. Many buildings didn’t collapse, but had massive cracks, so people were afraid to stay indoors and slept outside. There was no visibility as the air was filled with dust from the rubble that had come down from the surrounding mountains. As the city is a regional centre for commerce and transportation the government prioritized it for reconstruction and, in the space of two years, the town has been rebuilt largely with money and the help of Guangdong Province in the south of China. During reconstruction people lived in temporary accommodation with no heating or running water and shared bathroom facilities.

Many ethnic Chinese live in Wenchuan especially the Qiang people

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and the new town reflects their cultural architecture.
Qiang Village

The New Wenchuan City Hall

An open area has been provided for people to meet and relax in the new city, and every evening the place is full of dancers. There we met an enthusiastic young man, a project manager from Guangdong Province, working as part of the reconstruction team for the past two years. He was anxious to know what we thought of the new city and in particular the area where the people could enjoy themselves. We explained that we knew Wenchuan well and were very impressed with the city’s new look. We were amazed that so much had been accomplished in such a short time.

Dancing in Wenchuan

Throughout the city, there are posters which show the bright new future.

I have spent a great deal of time in China over the past 30 years but this visit has been the most poignant and memorable. And, while I am saddened that so many people were killed in the earthquake, I am heartened by the tremendous resolve of these wonderful people to rebuild their city and their lives.

Posted by Hawkson 11:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

The Rebirth of Yingxiu

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On May 12, 2008, when we in Canada heard of the catastrophic earthquake in Sichuan province, we immediately thought of our friends and colleagues in the Wenchuan area. We felt so helpless, and it was weeks before we knew the full extent of the disaster and the identities of our Chinese colleagues who had died. People at both of our institutions immediately decided that we wanted to show our support. So, in consultation with our project partners in China, it was decided that we would raise money to provide a multimedia lab for the new Yingxiu Primary school. Vancouver Island University's efforts were spearheaded by Jennifer, our international activities manager, strongly supported by two Chinese students, Lisha and Haolei, and at Holland College by Jolene. Between the two institutions and their communities $30,000 was raised for the new lab.

As we approached the site chosen for the new primary school in Yingxui, we could see the remains of the nearby High School which was also devastated by the earthquake.


We were met at the new school site by the Vice Principal and 5 students.


The purpose of our visit was to unveil a plaque to commemorate our donation.


In the part of the school which is already complete we were thanked by the VP and by one of the students who made a touching speech.


He said, (translation) “…We won’t forget all your kindness and support. All the students will use and benefit from this interactive lab, and our students will study hard and use the learned computer skills to reciprocate your care and assistance to us. I believe that along with your help and support we will have a better and prosperous future.
On behalf of Yingxiu Primary School, I thank you once again for all of your kindness and help. I would like to extend my warmest regards to all our friends at Holland College and Vancouver Island University. Wishing you all the best and a bright future.
From the pupils of Yingxiu Primary School June 27th 2010”


I felt privileged and honored to have been able to attend this occasion. While the school and the lab are not finished, because of the time taken to choose a new location and clear away the remains of the old buildings, the government is determined that the school will be completed by the beginning of the school year in September 2010.

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As we left we were each handed a small piece of rubble made into a memento as a sober and permanent reminder of all of the destruction which nature can cause.

(To be continued.....)

Posted by Hawkson 21:49 Archived in China Comments (2)

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